A tropical dream getaway, Huatulco boasts an amazing 9 bays with 36 beaches nestled along a stretch of untouched coastline. On land are canyons, waterfalls, as well as fruit and coffee plantations. Go on a mountain adventure in the wild jungle, snorkel among spectacular coral reefs or simply relax on deserted beaches – you’ll never run out of things to do in Huatulco.
Read on for the ultimate guide to Huatulco.
What is Huatulco Known for?
Huatulco is known for:
- The Ambiance: Unlike the larger beach resorts of Mexico, Huatulco offers a great ambiance, thanks to its small town feel. Although Huatulco is far less developed than Cancun, it still boasts most of the same amenities and luxuries necessary for a warm winter getaway.
- The Charming Downtown: Huatulco has a small center that is laid-back and fun to stroll around. Be sure to check out La Crucecita, a church whose colorfully painted interior features a 65-foot image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Also try some delicious tamales at the local restaurants.
- The Bays & Beaches: Go on a boat ride to fully experience Huatulco’s beautiful unspoiled bays and beaches. Huatulco boasts 36 beaches spread along 9 bays, each with its own unique charm. Some are undeveloped while others offer restaurants, bars, shops and watersports.
- The Ruins: Copalita Eco-Archeological Park is the site of Copatitlan, an ancient city dating from over 2,000 years ago. Accessible via stone-paved walking trails and featuring a small interesting museum, Copalita offers fascinating insights into the pre-Columbian heritage of the region.
- The Hotels: Although Huatulco is less developed than the more famous holiday destinations of Mexico, it still boasts a nice variety of hotels. Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa, the newest all-inclusive, is an adults-only resort with beautiful views, upscale restaurants and a hilltop spa.
- The Abundant Activities: Active travelers will find their niche in Huatulco which offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, horse-riding, ATV riding, bird-watching, river rafting and photography.
- The Eco-friendly Focus: Huatulco is Mexico’s only resort area to be awarded the international Green Globe certification for sustainable tourism. The resort has no factories or industry, its water treatment plant was one of the first to recycle sewage water, and many of its roads have been designated as “green zones.”
Where in Mexico is Huatulco?
Huatulco is situated within the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, at the meeting point of the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, around 500 kilometers to the south of Acapulco, Guerrero.
How Far is Huatulco from the Equator?
Huatulco is located 15 degrees to the north of the Equator. Huatulco’s proximity to the Equator means that it enjoys hot and sunny weather throughout the year. This location also makes Huatulco one of the region’s most hurricane-safe resort areas.
What is the Population of Huatulco Mexico?
The population of Huatulco is around 50,000 inhabitants.
What Does Huatulco Mean?
The official name of Huatulco is “Las Bahias de Huatulco” which is Spanish for “the Bays of Huatulco.” This is in reference to the 9 bays with 36 beaches that make up Huatulco. The name “Huatulco” is derived from “Coahatolco,” the Nahuatl language word that translates to “the place where the wood is revered.” The wood referred to is the Holy Cross of Huatulco.
According to legend, in pre-Columbian times a bearded white man placed a wooden cross on the beach, which was venerated by the locals. In the 16th century, when Thomas Cavendish the pirate arrived and looted the area, he tried to remove or destroy the cross, but failed. Fragments of the legendary cross can today be seen in the church of Santa Maria Huatulco and the cathedral in Oaxaca City.
Is It Safe to Travel to Huatulco for Tourists?
Yes, it is perfectly safe for tourists to travel to Huatulco, as long as you stick to the well-traveled tourist areas and have your wits about you at all times. Although crimes against tourists are rare, because Huatulco is a popular tourist destination, there is the risk of opportunistic crimes like petty theft, pickpocketing and bag-snatching.
Does Huatulco Get Hurricanes?
Yes, Huatulco gets hurricanes. The last hurricane that hit Huatulco was Hurricane Pauline which occurred on October 8, 1997. That said, there are some advantages to traveling to Huatulco during hurricane season: fewer crowds, as well as lower flight and hotel prices. Moreover, there are hurricane forecasts that will give you plenty of warning to get out of the way.
Is Huatulco Dangerous in Any Way?
Huatulco is not completely immune to crime. Because it is a popular tourist destination, visitors to Huatulco face the risk of opportunistic crimes such as petty theft, bag-snatching and pickpocketing. It is therefore important to always use your common sense and have your wits about you when visiting Huatulco.
Where Should I Go in Huatulco?
Here is a list of places you should go in Huatulco:
- Huatulco National Park: Spanning 12,000 hectares, Huatulco National Park is home to 3 of the resort’s 9 bays. A mosaic of ecosystems, the park boasts amazing biodiversity, with many plant and animal species. Visitors can experience the beauty of the national park by cycling, along hiking trails, on bird-watching excursions and boat trips to the hard-to-access bays.
- Bahia San Agustin: Arguably the prettiest of Huatulco’s bays, Bahia San Augustin is the westernmost bay. It is also one of the hardest to reach, which means that it never feels crowded. Besides its pristine golden sand beach, Bahia San Agustin boasts some of the best snorkeling in Huatulco, with crystal-clear waters and coral reef teeming with colorful marine life.
- Bahia de Cacaluta: The epitome of a tropical paradise, Bahia de Cacaluta was selected as a setting for the 2001 film “Y Tu Mama Tambien.” Nestled inside the national park, this bay boasts a beautiful secluded beach with a stretch of golden sand fringed by lush jungle. Strong swimmers can go snorkeling at the nearby island and see many crabs inside rock pools.
- Bahia Chachacual: Also found within the national park, Bahia Chachacual boasts beautiful waters in dazzling green and blue tones. The bay has 2 beaches: the main beach Playa Chachacual, and Playa la India which is fringed by mangrove forests and jungle. Strong swimmers can push out for some snorkeling; or visit in winter to see humpback whales passing by the shore.
- Cascadas Magicas: Situated within the Sierra Madre del Sur, Cascadas Magicas is a series of gorgeous waterfalls on the Rio Copalita tributary. To reach the falls, you need to drive along a winding mountain road, then hike through the lush jungle before you arrive at the banks of emerald pools and dreamy cascades. There’s a cave where you can dip in clear cool waters.
- Parque Ecoarqueologico de Bocana Copalita: This archaeological site features remains dating from 900 BC to 1000 AD. Monuments to see include the ball court, main temple, a series of tiny plazas with houses and a sacrificial stone atop a cliff. The on-site museum chronicles the Mixtec and Zapotec cultures via artefacts such as ceramic vessels, figurines and sculptures.
- Hagia Sofia: Also located within the Sierra Madre del Sur, Hagia Sofia is a botanical garden and farm in which visitors can immerse themselves in the natural scenery of Oaxaca, its plants and agriculture. Spanning 130 hectares, the garden features rare timber, flowers and fruits. Highlights include walking up the Rio Magdalena to the spectacular Waterfall of the Bell.
- Playa la Bocana: Situated beneath the archaeological site, Playa la Bocana is a sandy beach that dramatically changes with the tides and seasons. Its strong currents are great for surfing and body-boarding. For softer skin, take a bath in the mineral-rich mud deposited by the Rio Copatilo. Also grab a fish burger or shrimp taco and a cold beer at the beach-side restaurants.
What is there to do in Huatulco?
Here is a list of things you can do in Huatulco:
- Boat Trips: To get the best out of a Huatulco trip, you will need to get out on the water. Take a group tour or private charter and go snorkeling, whale-watching, bird-watching, or simply find the most secluded beach and feel just like a castaway for some hours. An intimate and quiet boat trip is the best way to enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty of Huatulco National Park.
- Diving: Pro divers seeking once-in-a-lifetime marine animal encounters should look no further than Huatulco. Boasting 39km of coastline with over a hundred sites including vibrant reefs, you could dive for weeks in Huatulco and not see the same sea creatures twice! Four species of sea turtles live in these waters, as well as 4 dolphin species, a variety of sharks and rays.
- Surfing: Regarded as one of the upcoming surfing destinations in the world, the coast between Salina Cruz and Huatulco offers ideal water temperatures, as well as strong point breaks and beach breaks. And at nearby Barra de la Cruz, surfers can enjoy perfect right point breaks, along with low-key tourist development that will leave you feeling just like an explorer.
- Coffee Plantations: Prior to tourism coffee was Huatulco’s main economy, and a handful of plantations are today willing to give tours. Finca El Pacifico is a large plantation with about 200,000 trees where visitors get to pick coffee berries and watch the beans being processed. You will also meet the owner and visit the family home to enjoy an authentic Oaxacan lunch.
- Fishing: Sport fishing charter operators in Huatulco can sail you out on motorboats decked with fishing rods and reels, for catching giant yellow fin tuna, marlin, sailfish and grouper. Once out on the open ocean, you may spot migrating humpback whales (in winter), along with dolphins and sea turtles. You can also go to the reefs for some snorkeling.
- Outdoor Activities: Adventure sport companies in Huatulco offer lots of activities including ATV tours, rock-climbing, and canyoning, horse-riding, mountain-biking, snorkeling, whitewater rafting, zip-lining and guided hikes. If you prefer a calm game of golf, visit Las Parotas, an 18-hole course whose design features natural hazards, as well as the existing woodland.
- Local Food: Because many activities offered in Huatulco involve full-day tours into the Mexican wilderness, foodies will have plenty of opportunity to indulge in authentic Oaxacan cuisine. For breakfast, try the chilaquiles (tortillas with mole). For lunch, go for the pina rellena con mariscos (pineapples stuffed with seafood) or the pescado empapelado (traditional fish dish).
What Can You Buy in Huatulco?
Here is a list of items to buy in Huatulco:
- Cotton Goods: Colorful cotton items such as bedspreads, sundresses, shirts, blouses and scarves, all of which are woven and stitched by hand.
- Wood Carvings: Believed to bring good luck, alebrijes are brightly painted wooden folk art sculptures in the form of whimsical animal figurines.
- Painted Masks: Playful masks of devils and other fantastical characters used in traditional dances, are handcrafted from wood and coconut shells, and then decorated with paint.
- Moles: No visit to Huatulco is complete without leaving with a jar of mole (salsa). Mole is a rich savory sauce that has made Oaxacan cuisine famous among foodies around the world.
- Day of the Dead Figurines: Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration held to honor the dead and celebrate life, using painted figures and shadow boxes made by craftsmen in the region.
- Chocolate: Oaxaca is the hub of chocolate production in Mexico and you can find the popular Oaxacan chocolate at most markets in Huatulco.
- Black Pottery: Oaxaca is famous for its distinctive pottery items which are made using local black clay, crafted into beautiful vases, bowls, pitchers and other decorative ornaments.
- Beaded Bracelets: Beaded bracelets are ubiquitous throughout Mexico and you can purchase some for yourself or as gifts from the local crafts markets.
- Organic Pluma Coffee: Organic coffee grown and sourced from the Pluma Hidalgo village in Huatulco is regarded as the best coffee in Mexico due to its wonderful taste and aroma.
What Should I Bring to Huatulco?
Here is a list of items to bring to Huatulco:
- Summer Wear – Light dresses, tank tops and shorts
- Beach Wear – Swimwear, cover-ups and flip-flops
- Formal Wear – If you will be dining at trendy restaurants
- Small Umbrella/ Raincoat – If traveling in the rainy season
- Reusable Water Bottle – When out and about always drink water constantly to hydrate
- Sunscreen – SPF 50 or higher, as the sun can get very hot
- Travel Documents – Your valid passport, photo ID and travel insurance
- Medication – A mild laxative, cough drops, antacids, and medicines for fever, pain, diarrhea and motion sickness
What Do You Wear to Huatulco?
Here is a list of items to wear in Huatulco:
- Beach Wear – Swimsuits, cover-ups and sandals
- Summer Wear – Tank tops, shorts and light dresses, hat & sunglasses
- Formal Wear – If you intend to dine at upscale restaurants
- Anti-Mosquito Wear – Light-colored cotton pants and long-sleeved shirts
- Outdoor Wear – If you plan to go on excursions such as hiking
- Sunscreen – SPF 50 or higher, because the sun can be brutal
- Raincoat – If you’ll be visiting during the rainy season
How Much Does It Cost to Live in Huatulco?
Here is an overview of basic monthly expenses in Huatulco:
|Transportation (Car, Gas & Insurance)||100|
How Many Days Do You Need in Huatulco?
You need about 3 days in Huatulco. With three days in Huatulco, not only can you spend some time on the beach, but you’ll also be able to explore outside the resort. Be sure to avoid overbooking yourself in Huatulco as the whole point of a Mexican vacation is to relax.
Below is a sample itinerary for 3 days in Huatulco:
- Day 1: Go on a boat trip to explore Huatulco’s many bays, do some snorkeling and eat seafood.
- Day 2: Go on a day trip to Mazunte where you can visit the turtle museum.
- Day 3: Spend the day lounging on the beach while sipping on cold refreshing drinks.